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Neural 39 > p.14 > hacktivism > ZTOHOVEN, we are not biometric data, interview our world, but also the world of our kids. We should all be careful and responsible for our behaviour. This is not a kind of paranoia, but a proposal of resistance towards apathetic responses to public questions, which still may pander to a totalitarian system.
ZTHOVEN, Citizen K
game board of these times. If we do not wish to fear our own face, we must save it!”
What do you think the role of the media is today? You mentioned before a project of yours, “Media Reality", where you faked a nuclear explosion. Do traditional media like the TV still influence our thinking and perception? Have things changed in the era of the internet? This is big question and I would like to be proved wrong when saying that everything that can be abused will be abused at some point. There is a lot of intimate information which people share online, as with Facebook for example. Sometimes I don't know if I should smile or cry when reading what people are able to write/share on the internet or on the TV. I don't watch TV but I am sure that "moving pictures" are the core medium through which people have learnt to recognize and understand the world. TV and the internet are really interesting inventions, the problem is their content.
What is the cost of turning against the media? For "Media Reality", you were actually taken to court, but at the same time you were honored with an award from the National Gallery. Some people seem to have been disappointed by your accepting the award and the amount of money corresponding to it. Do you think that there was some contradiction in your actions at this time? We tried to show something of the absurdity in society. We accepted being judged in the same way as being honored. The money from the award covered the penalty from the court. Maybe those who think that there is contradiction assume that we are white and we want to be in opposition to something black. But this question is still open between us and that's good, I guess. It is better than seeing only "good" and "bad" things. We try to study the world and find new ways to interpret it. But I understand those who criticized us for accepting the award. And this could be our response to them: We are looking forward to hearing about your project more than just hearing how you would rather do it if and if and if…
Your latest project, Citizen K., tackles the issue of control and surveillance in the name of security. Merging two faces into one, playing with biometric data, and creating one fake ID card for two people at the same time, you clearly doubted the system and revealed its holes. How does Citizen K. connect to the totalitarian systems of the past and the networked society of today? We live in a country where history was rewritten by each new ruler: by Nazis during WWII, by Socialism until 1989 and by neoliberalism thereafter. Most Czechs become wary when they feel signs of totalitarianism. But the problem is that new forms of power are very smart and people don't understand that shops full of commodities does not equal freedom. We just want people to realize that everything depends on us - not only regarding
How difficult was it to perform Citizen K? Were you afraid of getting caught? To be honest, it is not so easy to be faced with charges of criminal persecution. Imagine getting a letter from the police suggesting that you are under investigation, or being picked up from your bed in the morning. It is not easy, but it is part of our project. Soon it will be visible who is smarter and who is one step ahead. The police can think that they pursued us, but who knows. Maybe we are just playing a game with them and they don't know about it. Citizen K. is not finished yet!
You seem to imply sometimes that in your place there could be any citizen wanting to take action. Are you actively inviting the public to get involved? Of course, we would like to live in a world where people are interested and involved in the public process. But sometimes I feel like the transition between socialism and capitalism has both good and bad sides. We are here to kick the Czechs' asses and say: “Hey its also up to you where our children will live!” Citizen K. believes in a dialogue between various opinions and he was born to motivate people to not be ashamed and to say their opinion out loud. It's the same as in ZTOHOVEN; we are of different opinions and lifestyles, but we are able to meet and draw question marks over the big issues of today. Question marks are certainly better than exclamation marks and full stops - which usually indicate totality.
Interview with Jan Tar from ZTOHOVEN by > Daphne Dragona
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